A Love Song for Heather

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Time In A Bottle

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Israel’s Dilemma: Winning the Battle & Losing the War

The notorious Chuck Colson, a Watergate conspirator, once famously said (as did Franklin D. Roosevelt), “If you’ve got them by the balls, their hearts and mind will follow!”

Palestinian militants of Iz al-Din al-Qassam, Hamas' armed wing, Gaza Strip, June 30, 2014.

Palestinian militants of Iz al-Din al-Qassam, Hamas’ armed wing, Gaza Strip, June 30, 2014

Shelton, WA (7-16-14) – The greatest challenge of our times is holding corporations and governments to the same moral standards required of individuals. Our failure to have achieved this dream threatens the nation, humankind, the environment, and, indeed, civilization itself. Even a casual observer can’t help but notice how the contradiction of this failure is playing itself out before the eyes of the world in Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Israel. Ah, but that last in a maelstrom of words and blizzard of invective vainly attempting to gain the upper hand for public opinion over the ‘enemy’ along with whatever military/financial support comes with a successful media campaign.

Israel and the Palestinians have taken each other’s measure in this regard. They know each other only too well. Who cannot sympathize with a people victimized by the Holocaust and entire generations lost to Nazi death camps? And yet, what was the point of triumphing over the Nazis to become just like them when Israel seeks to exterminate an entire generation of Palestinians who call upon the right to self defense and self determination as devoutly as any Jew?

While Germany continues to pay reparations to Israelis for its war crimes even today, Palestinians were not the oppressors of Jews during WWII. Some have asked why western powers chose to carve a Jewish homeland out of Palestine for the survivors rather than the land of their persecutors after WWII which the Allies also controlled? Zionism had, of course, been around prior to WWII, but it reached its fruition in the partition of Palestine for a Jewish state.

Today, the Old Testament edict of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth passes for statecraft in the ongoing war against Palestinians and Israelis alike. Israel supposes it can prevail so long as it can prove it is more ruthless, more powerful, more ferocious, more murderous, more atrocious than its rival. What once was condemned as Nazi excess now is labeled collateral damage as innocent women, children, babies, and even hospital patients are blown to bits in a race to the bottom of immorality, atrocities. 80% of the victims of today’s bombing runs conducted by the Israeli Defense Force are civilians. This is a war crime by anyone’s standards except Israel’s and its primary patron, the U.S. At the same time, the storm of rocket attacks launched against Israel by Palestinians target cities and densely populated civilian neighborhoods. There is infamy enough for all.

Ambassador Ron Dermer is Israel’s chief diplomatic representative in the U.S. He asked some 700 American Jews on a conference call this week for their help in shifting the [media] messaging on Israel. Israel is being routinely portrayed in both conventional and social media as an angry, well-armed giant leaving many innocent victims in its wake during the current crisis with Hamas, Dermer said. Dermer is far from the only Israeli to believe his homeland is unfairly getting bad press–for a host of reasons including some of the following arguments.

Dermer told his audience Hamas may be winning the war over public opinion, as Israel is vilified for the civilian casualties [80%] its bombs cause in Gaza, while Hamas is not being blamed for instructing Palestinians to stay in their homes – even when they have been warned by the IDF the locations will be bombed imminently. Apparently those at the highest levels of government in the Jewish State believe Palestinians should evacuate their homes en mass to avoid massive retaliation. It is not known whether Hamas leaders have considered issuing similar warnings to Israelis or whether those targeted would comply or if the Israeli government would urge them to do so. If this were the case, Hamas would no doubt count it as a PR victory. That Israel’s leaders do not seem to see the parallel raises some interesting questions.

“Hamas is putting its missile batteries and command centers next to schools and hospitals. That is a major war crime. While we are doing everything possible to keep civilians out of harms way, Hamas is trying to put their people into harms way. Gaza’s interior minister said people should ignore warnings and go back into their homes. We are taking action to minimize, to the greatest extent possible, the number of civilian casualties; they are doing everything to maximize it,” Dermer said. Dermer didn’t explain how an 80% civilian casualty rate appeared to belie his argument Israel was attempting to minimize the number of civilian deaths, nor how bombing schools, hospitals, and other non-military targets could be expected to result in a reduction of civilian deaths. If war is diplomacy by other means and a violently brutal method of bending others to your will, targeting civilian populations is still considered a war crime. Much of the Cold War, of course, accomplished precisely that. Despite having the nuclear capability to trigger such terror and complete destruction, Israel prides itself for also having the conventional capability to accomplish the same ends. Gaza, after all, is a relatively small territory and lightly armed in the conventional sense. It is an asymmetric battle which Israel counts on winning, though hopeful it can do so without paying the price in public opinion. It’s not at all clear Israel can win this more total warfare or go the distance. After all, when you’ve got all those knives and forks, you’ve just GOTTA cut something! Born out of the Holocaust, is Israel doomed to forever revisit that nightmare by recreating it?

Yes, terrorists are vile and must be defended against. Yes, Christ may have been the Prince of Peace, but until all men are like him, it is well for us to keep our swords sharp. Still, can an unending escalation of violence bring peace without destroying the world? Jesus tells us no. Ghandi tells us no. Dr. Martin Luther King tells us no. Mandela tells us no. Israelis tells us yes. In fact, it is their national foreign policy. The U.S. appears to support this proposition. Is a continual compulsive ratcheting up of a cycle of violence and war crimes actually a legitimate exercise of the right to national self defense?–even for the descendants of Holocaust victims? Will an eye for an eye not lead to the whole world becoming blind? “War! Huh. Yeah. Good God, Y’all. What is it good for? Absolutely NOTHING!” -Edwin Starr- 

Dermer claims three quarters of Israel’s population has had to rush to bomb shelters in the past week and asked the Jewish Federation leaders on the phone call to advocate on Israel’s behalf with elected officials and local media. Dermer didn’t say what percentage of Palestinians had to rush to bomb shelters or if they even had bomb shelters they could access. His argument seemed centered around the notion leaflets warning Palestinians to clear out were a sufficient shield against allegations of war crimes…as though a note from one’s mother was enough. It sounded like an echo of the U.S. helicopter gunners who machine gunned civilians and children according to Bradley Manning’s expose of U.S. atrocities in Baghdad. When informed of the children they’d just machine gunned, U.S. soldiers were overheard sneering in the recording, “Well, they shouldn’t have brought their kids to a war zone.”

After the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Germany, and France expressed support for Israel’s right to ‘self defense, Dermer said there hasn’t been enough focus on the fact Hamas’ approach is to use Gaza’s citizens as human shields. During one infamous incident during the Korean war, U.S. forces opened up with machine guns on a huge crowd of Korean refugees fleeing toward American lines from the retreating Red Chinese and North Koreans. U.S. officials later attempted to deflect criticism for this atrocity by claiming it was feared there were North Korean infiltrators among the refugees. The massacre remains a controversial sore point with many Koreans even today. Israel’s approach? Tried and true, like their U.S. allies, kill them all! God will sort them out.

“We haven’t seen the world come out strongly against the use of human shields,” Dermer admonished. “Hamas thinks they will succeed because we can’t be perfect. The IDF has hit 1,200 targets in a very densely populated area. Even if just one percent of those actions goes wrong it can claim civilian lives. [80% of the casualties have, in fact, been civilians, not 1%.] It is important for the international community to send the message that Hamas is responsible for sending these non-combatants into harms way. [Blaming the victims is a neat trick and a defense Nuremberg judges rejected in the trials against accused and convicted Nazis war criminals.] If they think it works and it leads to greater pressure on Israel, you will see it more and more. Putting blame on Israel is actually giving Hamas a great victory,” he added. Dermer failed to explain how holding Israel accountable for the huge number of Palestinian civilian deaths it inflicted was a ‘great victory’ for Hamas. Could Israel be shifting its strategy to allow for more civilian deaths among its own population to achieve a competing ‘great victory’? In order to ‘save’ the village, it was necessary to destroy it. In order to ‘save’ the country, it had to be destroyed. In order to win the war, the population had to be killed. Israel has crafted its own final solution.

“Anyone making Israel’s case should make the case of how other countries facing similar threats would act,” Dermer advised. “That makes it clear that Israel’s actions are astounding. Everyone here knows if America were facing this threat, it would take at least as strong action. Everybody knows that’s true and that’s how Israel has to be defended. We are not perfect and we should try to do our best, but we are imperfect. That should not be a reason for maligning Israel. We should be very proud Israel is upholding the values we’re upholding in the face of a direct threat.” It wasn’t clear just what the values were Dermer was eulogizing–a sharper sword and greater death toll inflicted? A reluctance to kill all the Palestinians in the Gaza strip in one fell swoop? A reticence to go nuclear against a militarily weak opponent? It’s a measure of how far we’ve lost our way when virtue is measured by damning with faint praise. 

“Never lose sight of the difference between Israel and Hamas. Hamas is deliberately targeting civilians. That is a war crime. Israel is actually trying to target the terrorists. Every time an innocent is killed that’s a failure…It’s important to remember that we are not perfect. We can’t get it 100 percent of the time right. We’re pretty close. When you look at how densely populated this area is, but we are not perfect…We go to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties,” Dermer insisted. An 80% civilian casualty rate is ‘pretty close’, in his mind, to ‘getting it right’. Setting its priorities on winning this battle, Israel has effectively conceded it cannot win the peace. Dermer did not allow for the possibility the Palestinian hawks were ‘imperfect’ too in light of the actual hugely disproportionate number of Palestinian civilian deaths Israel had inflicted. Not only is targeting civilian populations a war crime, but hugely disproportionate responses are considered war crimes as well–allegations Israel would have a difficult time defending against. The travesty here is a people so completely persecuted have become the persecutors, abandoning their claim to the moral high ground along the way by becoming more obsessed with the nature of Palestinian terrorists than their own.

“It’s hard for me to accept responsibility for Israel’s actions when I see how hard we try to put their civilians out of harms way, and risk the security of ourselves…What would America do, or Canada do, if three-quarters of its population were in bomb shelters?” he said. The answer, of course, was America and the Soviets prepared to destroy all mankind along with civilization itself. Mutually Assured Destruction was the background for brinkmanship such as the Cuban missile crisis when the world held its breath on the precipice of Armageddon.

Israel has not suffered more casualties because of “a very disciplined Israeli population paying attention to the home front command,” and the Iron Dome missile interception system, Dermer contended. It might also be related to the fact Palestinians have no air force or air defense system.

Iron Dome, which was partly funded by the U.S., has intercepted about 700 of the 1,000 rockets fired at Israel, Dermer said. “It won’t engage every one of them…only when it is heading toward a built-up area does it fire a missile.”

The system has completely changed the way Israel responds, he said. “Iron Dome has allowed Israel to control events rather than be controlled by them. It protects Palestinian civilians as well. It gives the prime minister and cabinet the option to approach the war in a calibrated way. Without Iron Dome we would have to act much faster and take stronger military action, which could lead to casualties on our side and the other side. Iron Dome has uniquely changed the battlefield for Israel,” he said.

He also sounded a defiant note. “I’m not going to apologize for the fact we’re able to defend ourselves,” Dermer said during the hour-long phone call. “More [people] have not been killed because we have a very strong IDF and have invested a lot in protecting our civilians. Those of you who doubt Israel is holding these standards, remember: Only one other country has faced this amount of rocket fire–Great Britain during World War II. It is always important to judge Israel by the way other countries would respond.”  Despite its technological and military advantages, one thing is clear: Israel cannot win the war by attempting to be the more ruthless or inflicting 80% civilian casualties in numbers that dwarf the damage inflicted by Palestinian terrorists. The death of Rachael Corrie is a testament to the resilience of a people and their dream. While Israel may easily inflict more suffering upon its militarily weak neighbors, it cannot win the peace by doing so. Like the Jewish people after WWII, history will prove to be on the side of the Palestinians.

 

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Just Bee Cause, I Love You

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Skokomish Valley, WA (7-11-14) – The heat was hot, the humidity high, I could feel the nectar on my thigh. The sunlight poured like liquid gold into our garden of dreams on hold. And though you wonder out loud, it’s true, please don’t forget because I love you!

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Orwell’s Dystopia Is Here: Glenn Greenwald Nails It

There was of course no way of knowing whether you were being watched at any given moment. How often, or on what system, the Thought Police plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork. It was even conceivable that they watched everybody all the time. But at any rate, they could plug in your wire whenever they wanted to. You had to live—did live, from habit that became instinct—in the assumption that every sound you made was overheard, and, except in darkness, every movement scrutinized.

—“1984,” George Orwell-

by Sonali Kolhatkar

Investigative journalist Glenn Greenwald, best known for his reporting on the U.S. surveillance state, told me that in the year since he first met whistle-blower Edward Snowden, he went back and re-read Orwell’s dystopian novel “1984.”

In an interview on Uprising, Greenwald said that what surprised him the most about re-reading the ominous story was that “I had always remembered the ubiquity of the surveillance [in ‘1984’], which was we had a monitor in every single room of every home constantly watching every single person. So, a lot of people said, [our world is] not like ‘1984’ because not every single one of our emails is being read and or every one of our calls are being listened to because nobody could possibly be doing all that.” But, as Greenwald rightly pointed out, in Orwell’s world, “nobody actually knew whether they were being watched at all times. In fact they didn’t know if they were ever being watched.”

In essence said Greenwald, “The key to the social control was the possibility that they could be watched at any time.” Although we have no evidence that the Obama administration is engaging in any organized form of social control in our real world, the most dangerous possible outcome of the U.S. surveillance state is a dampening of dissent because of the mere possibility that the government is watching our every move.

In fact, Fourth of July celebrations in Boston this year will be the focus of intense high-tech surveillance, according to media reports. There is, of course, great irony in imposing “Big Brother” tactics on a day that is theoretically meant to symbolize freedom from colonialism and the hard won rights of personal freedoms. Meanwhile, President Obama’s own appointed watchdog panel has given a mostly unreserved thumbs up to the NSA’s programs. Can it get more Orwellian?

Greenwald knows personally how seriously governments take their right to spy on everyone and keep those programs secret. His own partner, David Miranda, was subjected to a detention and search at Heathrow Airport last year, on the premise of Britain’s “national security” interests, and by extension, the U.S.’ Greenwald’s source, Edward Snowden, faces a lifetime of exile and a possible life sentence for charges relating to the Espionage Act. That the intrepid, award-winning journalist is able to tour the nation freely to promote his book “No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State” is likely due to his deft handling of the news reports he has parceled out, garnering the maximum possible public exposure, and his vociferous defense of his and others’ constitutional rights.

In fact, Greenwald is a former constitutional law and civil rights litigator. During the interview, he rattled off to me the difference between a source and a journalist like it was second nature: “Sources are people in the government who have a specific legal obligation not to disclose things, whereas journalists have been recognized as having a First Amendment privilege.”

But the exercise of that privilege has brought with it criticism from both right-wing and mainstream analysts, including fellow journalists, who see Greenwald’s craft as tainted by too strong a bias. A lengthy exchange between Greenwald and former New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller in the paper’s op-ed section last year revealed the establishment conviction that good journalism can remain objective. Keller’s position that journalists should “keep their opinions to themselves unless they relocate (as I have done) to the pages clearly identified as the home of opinion” is reflective of a status quo that tends to identify anti-government opinions as bias while blindly accepting nationalistic tendencies as objective. Greenwald’s answer: “Ultimately, the only real metric of journalism that should matter is accuracy and reliability.”

Citing the history of what journalism used to mean, Greenwald told me, “For centuries … [we have had] crusading journalism with highly opinionated people using journalism as a tool to achieve certain social ends.” In fact, said Greenwald, it was “a way that citizens could hold people in power accountable through writing about them … and journalism has always been this kind of opinion-based, passion-driven activity.” After all, Upton Sinclair’s turn-of-the-century muckraking exposés of the seamy side of industries are among the best examples of American journalism.

Not surprisingly, many mainstream journalists who cover Greenwald, Snowden and the stories of NSA surveillance have betrayed their stated objectivity in embarrassingly obvious ways. The New York Times’ review of Greenwald’s new book referred to the author as a “self-righteous sourpuss,” and Snowden as someone with a “sweet, innocently conspiratorial worldview of a precocious teenager” who “appears to yearn for martyrdom.”

Psychological hit pieces against Greenwald and Snowden are common in the mainstream press, while members of Congress and Wall Street executives are rarely treated to the same level of psychoanalysis. For example, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who was caught telling a lie to Congress over the NSA’s surveillance program, has not received nearly the same level of widespread vitriol as Greenwald and Snowden have. To its credit, the New York Times editorial board did cite Clapper’s lie and referred to Snowden as a “whistle-blower” who “deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight.” But, that stood out as an exception to the widespread denunciations of Greenwald and Snowden (see herehere and here for examples).

In Orwell’s “1984,” traitors to the regime were “thought criminals” who were disgraced by their betrayal of Big Brother. After being singled out as such a criminal, Orwell’s protagonist, Winston, is instructed by his interrogator to believe he is “mentally deranged.” Although the novel is an extreme depiction of a fascist future, many of the tactics adopted by today’s so-called objective journalists to keep dissenters such as Greenwald and Snowden in line are consistent with Orwell’s dark fantasy. By discrediting those who speak out, it is possible to dismiss the substance of their criticisms. But, as Orwell famously wrote, “in a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”

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CHP Cop Repeatedly Punches Homeless Woman in the Head

Los Angeles, CA (7-4-14) – A California Highway Patrol trooper tackled a mentally ill homeless woman and proceeded to repeatedly beat her to the point she was hospitalized.

The California Highway Patrol said Friday it is investigating the video of one of its officers straddling a woman and punching her in the head as she lay on the shoulder of a Los Angeles freeway.

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Bee Cool This 4th

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Olympia, WA (7-4-14) – Heather Wood from the Urban Evergreen Bee Sanctuary (Olympia) wants a bee hive in every garden. She builds hives and distributes them to those who want one. She started with a small grant and uses sustainable wood for basic materials, which cost about $70. There is no charge for a hive, but she asks for donations.

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The hives are not designed like standard commercial supers, but are called top bar hives–requiring less maintenance and disturbing of the bees in a more natural configuration. Come to one of her workshops and you may decide you, too, want a home for our endangered bees.

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Heather Wood (360)551-0674 urbanevergreenbeesanctuary@gmail.com

http://urbanevergreenbeesanctuary.com

927 Lybarger St, Olympia, WA

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Are Cops Above The Law? DUH!

by Matt Agorist

Campbell, Iowa (6-8-2014) – Greg Luce is an activist who was exercising his 1st Amendment right in Iowa, back in October of 2013.

A town ordinance in Campbell, Iowa, where Luce was protesting, prohibits the use or display of “signs, flags, banners, pennants, streamers, balloons” within 100 feet of an interstate overpass.

Luce and some friends decided to try a different approach to the law by wearing t-shirts that together spelled “IMPEACH” on one side and “OBAMA” on the other while standing on the interstate overpass.

On October 24, 2013, Campbell police threatened Luce with a ticket for this demonstration. Luce filed a federal suit in February, stating that the law violates his rights to free speech and assembly.

The lawsuit rubbed police chief Tim Kelemen the wrong way.

The department also began receiving threats via email from others who were upset with the alleged civil rights violation against Luce.

None of these threats have been linked back to Luce.

In January of this year Luce discovered someone had used his name and email address to register him on pornography and dating websites and on healthcare.gov.

The town of La Crosse police launched an investigation into the incident.

Through the investigation La Crosse police found that the internet addresses used to register Luce on these sites were from the town of Campbell and chief Kelemen’s home computer.

When La Crosse police realized the potential conflict of interest they sent the investigation to Monroe County Sheriff’s Department.

During a May 27th interview between Kelemen and investigators, Kelemen initially lied and said he had no idea about the solicitations made on Luce’s behalf.

Once he was told that police already new that he was involved he recanted his denial and confessed to the activity.

Below is the video of the investigation which shows chief Keleman lie to investigators and then confess.

[Campbell Police Chief Kelemen lying to investigators and then confessing to internet harassment, intimidating a witness in a federal case or possibly many other offenses. This is a short 4 minute highlight clip of the interview. The entire interview can be viewed here:
Part 1: http://youtu.be/DzbiNGn6WW0
Part 2: http://youtu.be/RynPVATXAJQ

Last fall members of the La Crosse Tea Party conducted a rally on the pedestrian overpass in the Town of Campbell Wisconsin as part of the national Overpasses for Obama's Impeachment movement. The town enacted an ordinance shortly afterward to prohibit any signs, flags, balloons etc. from within 100 feet of an overpass. 

The unconstitutional ordinance was presented and pushed by Police Chief Tim Kelemen. Activists from around the state and the country came for a rally on December 7 in defiance of the ordinance and video taped the police chief's inept attempt at enforcing the ordinance. (He issued 4 citations, but never even asked anyone to stop displaying their sign or to leave the bridge). If the ordinance was really in the name of safety, he was endangering motorists by not removing the flags, signs and even an 8 foot wooden cross.

A federal complaint was filed by the Thomas More Law Center for plaintiffs Greg Luce and Nick Newman. The pressure appears to be too much for Chief Kelemen, as you can plainly see in these videos.

Scott Johnson Town Chairman 781-6840
Bob Wolfert Utility District Supervisor 783-7747
Pat Post Health, Education, and Welfare Supervisor 781-2197
David LaFond Streets and Road Supervisor 783-5107
David Wilder Park and Rec Supervisor 781-1676]

When watching the above video, the nonchalant attitude of the investigating officer in response to the chief lying tends to confirm the ‘protect your own’ mentality of police and the subsequent special treatment that goes along with it.

Had Kelemen been your average Joe, he’d likely be facing charges for impeding an official investigation or obstruction of justice.

Instead, the lying is dismissed and the discussion immediately changes to how they will be able to beat these charges.

It is disheartening, to say the least, to witness such brazen special privilege.

Ironically Kelemen uses an excuse that he would have likely laughed at if it were given to him, by stating that he “didn’t know (his actions) were illegal.”

The investigation is currently underway and judging from this video, we can predict that Kelemen will receive little more than a slap on the wrist.

“I have never experienced when a police chief or a police department, even though they were being harassed, turned around and violated the law themselves,” Luce’s attorney, Richard Thompson said. “This impacts our federal suit. It is intimidating to Luce that the chief of police is taking these kinds of bizarre actions because he doesn’t like the fact that Luce filed a lawsuit.”

In the above video, a cop w/severe testosterone poisoning is indistinguishable from the violent @narchists who also attempt to bully, threaten, and intimidate street photojournalists/photographers.

The cop in the above video dissembles after being busted by a trucker when told he’s being recorded.

Must have ability to make up fake laws or misinterpret existing ones spontaneously.

Resisting Arrest?

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Once again, the incompetent cops in the above video are indistinguishable from Oly’s violent r@dicals. Photography is NOT a crime–nor is ‘permission’ required in public venues. The state sponsored thugs and the self appointed private thugs are cut from the same w@rp and weave!

Poet prays for Divine Intervention against police brutality/arrest and…IT’S GRANTED!

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Oly’s Growth & Decay: Capitol Center Bldg/Fountain Park

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Splendor in the Grass

Olympia, WA (7-1-14) – Children, both young and in their 60′s frolicked in the geysers of Olympia’s Fountain park adjacent to the abandoned Capitol Center Building, the tallest non-government high-rise in the City. Boarded up busted lower story windows, graffiti and evidence of the homeless hiding in its shadows to evade municipal scrutiny were abundant in sharp contrast to the lush manicured grass and ebullient crowd enjoying a hot summer afternoon in the fountain’s pleasantly cool water.

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92 in the Shade

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Unfortunately, seemingly as suddenly as the abandoned high rise, the fountain unexpectedly shut down and the crowds  drifted away. While the geyser park is almost universally loved, there are equal numbers of those who love and hate what some call the “mistake on the lake”. It’s a quintessential example of what’s known as mid-century (20th) architecture–straight spare lines, soaring heights plus massive use of steel and concrete. For all that, it’s last tenant left in 2006. It remains empty and a bit of an eye sore, more for the lack of maintenance that design.

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Blinded By The Light

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The Longest Day

The Capitol Center Building stands empty in the face of an army of homeless residents the City has done its utmost to criminalize by definition–steamrolling the civil rights of an entire underclass. The structure is centrally located near many of the services sorely needed by the destitute, hungry, and homeless–which is precisely why Olympia’s City manager and downtown business owners would vehemently oppose such a proposal. They cannot even tolerate a faith based charity orchestrated by Ben Charles, a native American, feeding the hungry on Thursday evenings in an empty public parking lot downtown.

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Darkness, Darkness–Be My Pillow

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Many naysayers alleged the homeless are living on the street by preference or, like the soup lines to which Attorney General Ed Meese once referenced, because they are ‘free’. Yet 40% of the homeless have jobs! Never, in living memory within America have so many YOUNG homeless people been seen trying to survive on the streets. The City does it’s best to shutter its streets, lock its public toilets, close its public showers, gate-off its public wooden towers along Water Street’s boardwalk, and make the poor/homeless as unwelcome as possible in an effort to establish a virtual gated city.

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Midnight Disposal Unit

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Former Glory

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Bike Commuter

The Capitol Center Building has become a testament to the municipal effort to create a hostile environment for the poor through its anti-poverty laws, its refusal to make unused resources available to the homeless, it’s hostility toward organizations who do aid the poor/hungry/homeless, and its insistence on locking every possible venue, including public toilets, in order to deny the homeless access. It’s a prescription for a public health/safety disaster.

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Street of Dreams

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Once They Built Railroads

The City’s police seemed resigned to what already appears to be a low grade insurrection in the streets. It can only get worse as the City is unable/unwilling to provide basic services to all its residents. Faith based outreach program volunteers try to bridge the gulf, but is it too little too late? The plethora of discarded needles, crimes, car prowls, wanton vandalism, and burglaries indicate a malaise difficult to treat once it takes root in the body politic. What’s worse, increasingly, government is being seen by many not only as irrelevant, but harmful. The darkest hour comes just before the dawn. Let us hope there’s light at the end of the tunnel.

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Urban Decay

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Homeless: Stay Off the Concrete

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The Young Invincibles

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Oly’s Culture of Violence @ Public (A)rtesian Well

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The Illustrated Man

Olympia, WA (7-1-14) – With the 4th of July nearly upon us, the spirit of independence among Americans is alive and well, suggesting it’s time to re-examine how this plays out in our civic spaces and public places…e.g. Olympia’s City owned Artesian Well on 4th Ave near several taverns and an adjacent bike shop.

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It’s the Water!

As always, a picture is worth a thousand words, but without a narrative, they don’t tell the whole story in this instance. A revisit to the Artesian was in order as the City was still altering it, installing an additional drain for runoff in the asphalt with nary a blade of grass in sight. Municipal fingerprints were everywhere. The City had blacked out thoughtful artistic graffiti honoring street heroes which requested the well be respected as a community resource.

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Community Oriented Tasteful Graffiti Censored

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Asphalt Jungle

The City has also installed a large steel strong box as if marking its territory. Some boxed flowers were hanging and in planters on the pavement. A couple of picnic tables had been added–and removed nightly so as to make it less inviting for the homeless.

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The most miraculous sight was a public handicap accessible outhouse, though behind a wrought iron barricade. Bystanders said the City continues its policy of locking all of its public toilets at around 5  or 6 pm, and this one was no exception. But, a closer examination revealed the wrought iron gate had been WELDED open.

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Anti-Homeless Barriers

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Gate Latch Welded Open

How in the world did the City lock the public toilet when the wrought iron latch had been welded? They lock the fiberglass door on the outhouse itself it was said. This suggested a need for verification of facts and a closer inspection–camera in hand.

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No complete hasp or holes for locking this particular door were apparent. Perhaps a closer inspection inside would solve the mystery?  A tug on the door left it unyielding. A stronger tug on it produced a violent kick of the door and a woman (Ava Arvest) exploding out spewing profanities and accusing the photographer of disturbing her, to put it mildly. “Please don’t kill me,” was his first thought. She was violently angry…announced to those present, including a motorcyclist named Brian, the evil photojournalist had attempted to violate her personal space.

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Other observers, having entertained an earlier dialog about the City’s counterproductive hysteria in locking public toilets assured Ava this wasn’t the case, that the shutterbug didn’t know the outhouse was occupied. Ava could have announced as much with the first tug, but given her nature, chose confrontation, and would have none of it. “It has an ‘OPEN’/’OCCUPIED’ indicator on the door!” she fumed. “It doesn’t always work,” said they.

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Ava Arvrest (right) Cooling Off

Sensing her weak argument for a witch hunt, Ava segued effortlessly to gloating about the photojournalist having been assaulted and robbed by a mob of @narchists during a TESC event (Anarchists Convergence in 2013). “That crime continues to be investigated by the campus police,” came the response.

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Ava Arvrest & Brian

Ava Arvest selfie

Brian and Ava obviously knew each other well, but while Ava was too shy to mention her name, Brian let it slip. Ava, in fact, had recently sought legal advice over the internet from the paralegal and photojournalist, though rudely, as always. Both Brian and Ava eagerly argued the violent consequences awaiting any photojournalist insisting on the right to photograph in public without permission…ignoring the signs announcing video surveillance while oozing self-righteous violent repercussions over uninvited street photography. Brian even detailed how he would smash the photographer’s camera/face.

When it was pointed out photography was not a crime, but assault was, Ava demurred it was only what Brian would FEEL like doing, not what he would actually do.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you at Media Island?” Ava was asked. “That’s because there’s someone there who assaulted me,” she complained. “Really? Why don’t you file a complaint and/or take the person to court?” she was asked. Ava paused, then said, “No. They’d just want money.” Ava then sniffed disapprovingly at the reporter’s electric car as she panned, “Nice car you have there.”

With Charles Waller, Alexander Raveane, Ava Arvest, Lisa Pangburn, Jacob David Fortuna, Donovan Michael, Chelsea Norris and Mike Norris.

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Ava Arvest w/Laura ‘Lizzy’ Baggs

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Ava Arvest hums a few bars

Ava & Robert Rawson

The veiled threat was palpable. Ava, it turned out, had been in a romantic relationship with a Media Island regular–Bruce Wilkinson. The breakup had not gone smoothly. Ava wouldn’t disclose the details or who, but each had insisted other Media Island volunteers get involved to resolve their personal conflict.

Many hours were spent with little or no progress, but not before Ava attempted and was prevented from destroying Bruce’s bicycle locked to Media Island’s front steps. Clearly, Ava listened to a different drummer when it came to respecting other people’s property. The law, as with 1st Amendment rights, was an inconvenience, but no barrier to her.

After a few more contemptuous innuendos, the reporter and subject parted company. Olympia’s public spaces remain hazardous as various street elements try to virtually ‘privatize’ them as their own, substituting their own biases and violent impulses for the law.

The City’s police continue to treat this as a fait’ accompli’, throwing up their hands in a show of utter disgust and concession of defeat. Citizens will have to resort to their own strategies to reclaim public venues as the municipality cannot or will not protect them. Or, as Brian hinted, “Insisting on your right(s) [e.g. to photograph in public?] has consequences!” This cannot be denied, as Trayvon Martin found out too late.

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“You didn’t ask permission!”

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